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Statement on Passage of Smoke-Free Workplace Bill Out of House Public Health Committee

Publication Date: 2011-03-09
  • Author:Smoke-Free Texas
  • Publication:PRNewswire

Advancement of HB 670 and SB 355 contributes to increasing momentum for a smoke-free law

The Texas House Public Health Committee voted today to pass House Bill 670 (8-2) out of committee. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted to pass Senate Bill 355 (5-3) out of committee on March 8. The bills propose a statewide smoke-free workplace law to provide all Texans protection from the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure in indoor workplaces, including bars and restaurants.

Both committees heard personal testimony on the bills during hearings last week where the bills were left pending, which is common in the legislative process. More than 70 organizations and individuals registered or testified in support of the bills at the committee hearings.

The following is a statement by Melinda Little, southern regional director for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and co-chair of the Smoke-Free Texas Coalition:

"The passage of House Bill 670 and Senate Bill 355 out of the respective committees this week contributes to the increasing momentum for a statewide smoke-free workplace law in Texas. We are excited about the rapid movement of the bills throughout the legislature thus far and look forward to the road ahead.

"We applaud the invaluable efforts of state legislators from both parties who have dedicated their efforts to pass this legislation, especially committee chairwomen Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) and Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) for their support and leadership over the past few weeks, and the members of both committees that provided us favorable consideration and helped us move these proposals to the next stage of the legislative process. We would also like to thank the bill sponsors and long-time champions of the issue, Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and Rep. Myra Crownover (R-Denton), for their continued leadership on this legislation.

"A statewide smoke-free workplace law would improve the health and well-being of Texans across the state and would benefit the Texas economy by providing significant cost savings for businesses and taxpayers. All Texas employees and customers deserve the right to breathe clean indoor air in the workplace. The time is now for our state to ensure protection for all Texans by passing this law."

Both bills are a product of bipartisan consensus reached after several years of collaboration among numerous lawmakers and stakeholders. As the proposed legislation continues to advance throughout the legislature, support for a smoke-free workplace law in Texas continues to grow:

* More than 45 Texas House members from both political parties have signed on as authors or coauthors of HB 670.
* A 2011 statewide poll found the majority (70 percent) of Texas voters surveyed support making bars, restaurants and other workplaces smoke free.
* A 2011 academic study found that a statewide smoke-free workplace law in Texas would save the Texas economy $404 million in reduced health care costs and productivity savings biennially.
* An increasing number of organizations, local elected officials, faith leaders, musicians and individuals have signed on in support of a statewide smoke-free workplace law.

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